It’s in moments like these when experience counts the most.
With 2:15 left in a Nassau A girls basketball semifinal, No. 2 North Shore had a 65-49 lead. But No. 3 Sewanhaka quickly flipped the ending of a predictable script and the din in the gym grew to a deafening thunder as the margin narrowed to two with 9.4 seconds left. That’s when it pays to have been here six times before.
“It was getting a little crazy in here but we were able to pull through, stayed focused,” Gabrielle Zaffiro said. “We didn’t get flustered.”
North Shore sealed the 70-65 victory at LIU Post on Saturday night and will return to the county final against No. 1 Elmont Saturday at Hofstra after a one-year absence. And it had a lot to do with the Vikings’ players ability to fit every role.
“Some years, our offense never failed, but then some years our defense never failed,” said Ashleigh Sheerin, who had 12 points and has been a part of each team over the past six seasons. “But what hasn’t changed my whole entire career is every single team playing with such intensity every single game.”
That confidence was on display at the end of the third quarter as Zaffiro broke a three-defender trap along a backcourt sideline and got the ball to Paige Barwick, who laid it in. Zaffiro credited Sewanhaka’s Destiny Hurt (21 points) for staying on her. Barwick made another layup to give the Vikings a 51-35 lead going into the fourth.
Zaffiro had 20 points and 11 rebounds, but she relied on her teammates to break the tough defense by Sewanhaka (19-3). They included Jessica Scuderi, who had 13 points, nine on three-pointers, including one from the corner with 6:19 left in the third to gave North Shore (21-1) a 39-24 lead. Like every big play, it turned out to make all the difference later on.
“Those moments are my favorite,” Scuderi said.
After Saturday, the Vikings have even more to add to their playoff collection.